Injuries sustained at school account for over 7 million emergency room visits for kids each year, with approximately ten percent of those injuries reported as the result of intentional actions. If your child was hurt at school, you need to know what your rights are to protect him or her and to pursue a personal injury case, if eligible. Here's a look at what you need to know to determine who is responsible for the injury and how you should proceed.
Was the Injury Caused by Negligence or Intentional Actions?
The first step is to determine exactly what happened. You'll need to be able to prove that your child was harmed as a result of a deliberate action or someone's negligence. Here's a look at some of the things that might fall under each category:
Bullying is the most common intentional act that can cause injuries in school. In most cases, this is an action between two students, but it is not limited to such. In recent years, many instances of bullying on the part of teachers and school administrators has been uncovered as well.
When your child is at school, the school is responsible for providing a safe environment, food, transportation and care. Here are a few areas where the school may be negligent if your child is injured due to their failure to maintain those standards:
- School bus accidents – if the driver is negligent in the accident, isn't trained properly by the school or is driving a bus that the school district hasn't properly maintained.
- Playground injuries – when your child is hurt on the playground because there was insufficient supervision to protect him or her, or if the playground equipment is not properly maintained and is defective.
- Food poisoning – if your child is sickened by food improperly handled or stored by the school cafeteria staff.
- Slip and fall – instances of slip and fall injuries from poorly maintained stairways or handrails, as well as ice or other hazards.
Who Is Liable For The Injuries?
Once you've determined the actual cause of the injury, you'll need to figure out who would be held liable for it. Depending on the situation, this may be unclear.
For instances of bullying by other students, the parents of the student involved may be liable. The only way that the school would be held liable for this situation is if you can prove that the school district was aware of the problem and failed to address it in a timely and safe manner.
If the aggressor in a bullying situation was a school administrator, you may have grounds to hold the school liable. In particular, you may be able to show that the school district failed to provide adequate supervision, training or background checks for staff.
In the case of negligence situations, it is important to consider whether the school is public or private. If your child attends a public school, that school is typically considered a government organization. That means that there are strict regulations about when you can and cannot file a lawsuit. A personal injury attorney can help you understand these regulations.
If your child is attending a private school, you'd be bringing the case against a private entity, and in some cases a non-profit. Although there aren't usually regulations associated with personal injury cases against these organizations. If you believe that your child was injured due to an action on the part of a private school, your personal injury attorney can help you file the case.
Understanding not only how the injury happened but also what contributed to it can be an important part of deciding whether or not to file an injury lawsuit. If you believe that another student, a teacher or the school administration are at fault for your child's accident, you should talk to an attorney right away.